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World Bank to open an office in Myanmar

The World Bank will open an office in Myanmar, two decades after its last project in the country.

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This picture shows workers carrying bricks with bamboo framework from a boat at the harbor in Yangon. The World Bank announced on April 26, 2012 that it would open an office in Myanmar, nearly two decades after its last projects in the country. (YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

The World Bank indicated on Thursday that it will open an office in Myanmar in June, moving to re-engage with the country two decades after its last projects there ended, said the Associated Press.

Pamela Cox, the bank's regional vice president in East Asia, said the bank would examine Myanmar's development needs.

Cox said, "We've been working very closely with our board and our shareholders, the other bilateral partners, the IMF, and, of course, the government of Myanmar on plans for moving our relationship forward," according to Reuters.

She pointed out that the country, also known as Burma, was emerging from decades of international isolation with huge unpaid debts. According to Reuters, Myanmar's arrears amount to $393 million to the World Bank and $500 million to the Asian Development Bank.

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The World Bank froze its program in Yangon after the country stopped making payments on its debt in 1987, according to AFP.

Earlier this week, the European Union suspended a range of trade, economic and individual sanctions in response to the political and economic reforms taking place under President Thein Sein, noted AFP.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced last week that Japan would waive 300 billion yen ($3.7 billion) of Myanmar's debt.

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Cox said she will travel to the country in June, when the new office opens. She added, "Our primary goal is to help the people of Myanmar," according to AFP.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also set to visit Burma in a few days, to encourage the reforms taking place.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120426/world-bank-open-office-myanmar